I discussed maternal gatekeeping and VH 1’s Dad Camp on the Bill Meyers Show on KMED in southern Oregon on June 15–to listen to the interview, click here.
Bill Meyers is a father himself and a divorced one at that. His ex lives far away and so Meyers experiences what’s so common for so many fathers – he has visitation rights that he can’t exercise. When I mentioned Susan Stewart’s study on “Disneyland Dads” that concludes that the relationship between a non-custodial parent and his/her child tends to erode over time, his response was “I’m living that.”
So Meyers certainly “gets it” about the many barriers family courts place between children and their fathers. He’s also aware that dads who fall behind on child support aren’t all the “deadbeats” the press and state attorneys general would like us to think they are.
The nominal topic was VH1’s show “Dad Camp” which is all about irresponsible dads and virtuous moms. There’s not a word about maternal gatekeeping that marginalizes fathers in their children’s lives. Indeed, the show itself promotes exactly that; at the end of “Dad Camp,” we’re told that the mothers will decide whether the dads have matured enough to have a role in bringing up their children. It never mentions that the dads have legal rights that they can enforce in family court. No, to hear “Dad Camp” tell it, it’s the mothers’ decision alone, which is bad legal advice. In short, “Dad Camp” looks at maternal gatekeeping and likes what it sees.
So Bill and I talked about “Dad Camp.” His focus was on the stark discepancy between media portrayals of fathers and mothers, for which “Dad Camp” is the poster child. As is so often the case, the dads are the biggest losers possible (with one exception), while the mothers are depicted as essentially fault-free (again, with one exception). It’s an interesting concept, given that one mother has been with her deadbeat, alcoholic boyfriend for 4 1/2 years and that all the pregnancies were “unintended.” Anyone with a gram of curiosity would ask some questions about those things, but “Dad Camp” isn’t interested. It’s whole point is the virtue and corruption of moms and dads respectively. Beyond that, it doesn’t inquire.
I like it when people call in to ask questions or share their experiences. Having someone on to tell the up-close-and-personal facts of his own situation is worth a million words of mine. So when “Rich” called in to tell us about being a single dad raising his two children by a drug-addicited mother, I was pleased. Every one of those guys is a slap in the face to the anti-dad crowd.
Thanks to Bill Meyers for having me on and for being willing to do what needs to be done until things change – give fathers a voice.